Speed Reads

immigration debate

Kamala Harris defends not visiting U.S.-Mexico border in slightly contentious exchange with Lester Holt

Vice President Kamala Harris defended the fact that she hasn't visited the U.S.-Mexico border despite leading the Biden administration's immigration efforts in an excerpt of an interview with NBC's Lester Holt that aired Tuesday morning.

Holt, who sat down with Harris during her trip to Guatemala on Monday, asked her if she had any plans to travel to the southern border, noting that she's facing criticism from Republicans about her absence, as well as calls to do so from Democrats in border districts, like Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.). 

The Holt-Harris exchange turned slightly contentious, though not too heated, when the vice president said she didn't "understand the point" Holt was making by asking the question. Harris explained that she believes what's happening at the border is important, and pointed out that other members of the administration have traveled there. But she suggested her priority should be to address the root causes of the migration crisis, which is why she went to Guatemala and Mexico first.

GOP lawmakers quickly pounced on the interview, which they viewed as a slip-up. But The Atlantic's Edward-Isaac Dovere said that while "Harris didn't have an answer here about not visiting the border," her Republican critics "also don't have much of an answer for why she should go, beyond that it's an issue. Show trips by top officials aren't the actual work of solving the situation."